Scontro di civiltà per un ascensore a Piazza Vittorio

March 29, 2013 § Leave a comment

Part murder mystery, part social rights decree, part comedy, part tragedy, Scontro di civiltà per un ascensore a Piazza Vittorio is a novel about identity, more than anything else.

“Il Gladiatore” has been found murdered in the elevator of a Roman block.  The accused is Amedeo- but who is Amedeo?  According to everyone that knows him, he is the kindest Italian that there is.  Or?

“Ma poi chi e’ italiano? Chi e’ nato in Italia, ha passaporto italiano, carta d’identità, conosce bene la lingua, porta un nome italiano e risiede in Italia?  Come vedete, la questione e’ molto complessa.”

The composition of this book is an interesting weave.  The chapters alternate between monologues from the accused’s neighbors and from Amadeo’s snippets of solitary reflections (or, “howlings”).  And through these interviews, we come to know the culturally-mixed community in Rome’s Piazza Vittorio and the different ethnicities and perspectives that dwell there.  We listen to the rants of the Neapolitan doorkeeper, an old woman who claims to not be a racist, but can’t correctly identify anyone outside of Italy.  The wailings of a Peruvian girl, stuck inside the building in order to take care of a dying woman.  The preachings of an Italian professor.  The stories of immigrants, and the observations of an aspiring Swedish film-maker.  And more.

As we listen to the “true accounts” of all of these characters, and see how their “truths” vary from each other, and contrast them to Amedeo’s thoughts, we begin to understand all of the misunderstandings that arise between people and between cultures.  Addressing the themes of immigration and racial identity within contemporary society, Scontro di civiltà  per un ascensore a Piazza Vittorio investigates blame and perception in a refreshing style.

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“La verità e’ nel fondo di un pozzo: lei guarda in un pozzo e vede il sole a o la luna; ma se si butta giù non c’e’ più ne’ sole ne’ luna, c’e’ la verità.”

Translated into English by Ann Goldstein: Clash of Civilizations Over an Elevator in Piazza Vittorio.

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